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Monday, August 13, 2018

Tesla Model 3 Performance qualifies for Free Supercharging w/ code

Tesla Model 3 Performance, photo via Autoweek
The performance version of the Model 3 now qualifies for Free Supercharging if (and only if) you use a referral code when you buy it.

This referral program started on August 1, 2018. When it will end is not clear.

Here is my code patrick7819; feel free to use it with a Model S, Model X, Model 3 Performance, or even a Roadster.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Elon Musk Book List - Adults and Children

Undaunted: How Elon Musk Created 3 Giant Companies And Became A Billionaire by Ivan Fernandez
Love him or hate him, he's one of the most interesting people of our time. On one hand, he has grand visions for a multiplanetary future, has delivered more zero-emission cars than all the other auto-makers combined, sells solar panels to 'fuel' those cars with sunshine, has gone up against huge entrenched interests and come out victorious where others might have balked at the attempt. On the other hand, he's outspoken on twitter, has a habit of promising things will happen in "3 months maybe, 6 months definitely" that might take years to deliver. Millions have been made and lost on Tesla stock based on his utterances in quarterly calls with analysts.

If you want to know more about the man behind SpaceX, Tesla, The Boring Company, Hyperloop, (previously) OpenAI, Neuralink and what's behind his public persona, you're not alone. There are several books written about him. Where he comes from, his parents, upbringing, siblings, influences, first principles thinking...

The book to start with (and the only one that Musk agreed to be interviewed for AFAIK) is Ashlee Vance's Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future. Musk has refuted a few things in the book such as how he terminated his personal assistant when she asked for vacation time, but this is by far the most comprehensive of the Musk biographies.

Next on the list is the booklet Elon Musk: Biography of a Self-Made Visionary, Entrepreneur and Billionaire. It covers Musk's early companies Zip2, X.com, & PayPal. And how doing things in a new way has been a driving force behind each of Musk's companies be it SpaceX and the Journey to Mars, or SolarCity giving away solar panels and selling the electricity that they generate.

Next we have, Elon Musk: The Life, Lessons & Rules For Success. You generally don't become a billionaire without hard work and guiding principles. Musk often works 80 to 100 hours a week and expects others around him to "work their asses off too." All of this is in service of the vision of creating a "future that doesn't suck."

Last in this section is Elon Musk’s Best Lessons for Life, Business, Success and Entrepreneurship. Musk famously said "Failure is an option here. If things are not failing, you are not innovating enough." This book covers Musk's failures and how for most people, the fear of failure prevents the biggest successes. Success is found on the far side of failure; embrace failure, learn from it, innovate.

The Creative Gang

Musk is also included in books with other out of the box CEOs such as Steve Jobs and Jeff Bezos.

Secrets to Success in Life & Business of Billionaires is a 3 book set covering Elon Musk, Steve Jobs, and Richard Branson.

Next, we have The Space Barons: Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and the Quest to Colonize the Cosmos.

Books For Kids

Musk is an inspiring figure. He launches rockets, makes cool cars, digs tunnels, and was the inspiration for the modern Iron Man movie franchize. He has captured popular culture's imagination and this includes children's.

There are several books about Musk for children. Just as the first list started with a book by Ashlee Vance, so does this section. Elon Musk and the Quest for a Fantastic Future Young Readers' Edition is adapted from the full biography.


For even younger children, there's Elon Musk: This Book Is about Rockets. Becuase rockets are awesome and ones that land themselves on a barge floating at sea are even cooler. One day, they might even take us to Mars.

I hope you can find something engaging to read for yourself, a friend, or family in this list. Enjoy.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Tesla's Race With The US Tax Credit


Tesla has now opened the Model 3 design studio up to nearly everyone in North America with a reservation for the car. This has opened the floodgates for orders. Tesla is promising 2 to 4 months delivery window for the performance version of the car, 3 to 5 months for the dual motor, and 6 to 9 months for the first production versions.

With this glut of orders can they meet the promised delivery windows, and how will this impact the US federal EV tax incentive?

The Race Is On

Phase one of the US tax incentive applies to the first 200,000 plug-in cars from a manufacturer. After hitting the 200,000th delivery, the incentive changes. It goes from being a set number of cars, to a set time period. This is when the countdown starts. Now that July is here, Tesla has just entered this next countdown phase and is in a race against the clock. In this phase, two quarters after the 200k deliver, the incentive is cut in half, from $7500 to $3750. Six months later, it is again cut in half to 1/4 of the original amount.

Tesla is likely to cross the 200k US delivery mark in early July. That's the start of the 3rd quarter, which means that the clock starts in July and the incentive will be in full force in Q3 and Q4, through the end of 2018. Tesla has to deliver as many cars as they can during this race against the clock.

Many of the Model 3 reservation holders have been on the list for more than 2 years and they have an expectation of qualifying for the full incentive amount.

Will all of the people on the list be able to take delivery this year?

To answer this we'll have to estimate two things: One, how many people have configured and ordered a Model 3; and two, how many cars can Tesla manufacture and deliver before the tax credit is hobbled.

How Many Model 3 Orders? 

About 450,000 people reserved a Model 3. About half of these were in the US. This puts the potential US pool at ~225k.

The more affordable standard range version of the car is currently not available to order. This puts people in a bit of a dilemma. If you reserved a Model 3 in 2016 and wanted the $35,000 version of the car, you have a choice. Wait for the more affordable car and miss out on the incentive or order the long range car with premium interior. Only Tesla knows for sure what the reservation holders have done once they were given the option to order. For this exercise, I want to look at the more difficult case and assume that most people on the list have ordered from the currently available long-range options. I'm calling this worst case from the manufacturing perspective because of the volume of cars that would be required this year; whereas, from a profitability perspective, this is good news for Tesla, but we'll save that aspect for another day. Given this assumption, we'll estimate that 2/3rds of the available pool order a car and expect it to be delivered this year. That is 150k cars. Tesla has already delivered about 30k Model 3 in the US. This means that they'll need to produce and deliver ~120k Model 3 during the remainder of the year.

How Many Can They Deliver?

On July 1st, according to a Reuters article, Tesla has hit the promised 5,000 Model 3 produced per week milestone and they have plans to increase to 6,000 per week. Since we don't know when Tesla will hit 6,000 per week, we'll assume a worst case of 5,000 cars per week for the remainder of this year.

There are 26 weeks left until the incentive is halved. While production is ramping, it is common to take 1 week per quarter for equipment upgrades and maintenance. This gives Tesla 24 weeks of Model 3 production at a rate of 5k per week. This results in a surprisingly familiar number, 120k.

Summary 

Our (likely high) estimate of the number of people in the US that will order a Model 3 for delivery this year is 120k. Similarly, our (likely low) estimate of the number of cars that Tesla can produce during the remainder of this year is 120k.

These are just back of the napkin numbers, but they show that it's possible for Tesla to deliver cars to everyone in the US that's been on the waiting list if they order their car before the end of July.

If Tesla ramps up to 6,000 cars or more per week, this will allow them to fulfill orders in Canada or deliver cars to people who order later in the year.

Disclosure: I am a Tesla shareholder
http://ts.la/patrick7819

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Tesla Model 3 Dual Motor Ordered - Tax Credit Race Condition

On June 26th, 2018, Tesla opened up my ability to order a Dual Motor Model 3; and that's exactly what I did.

We ordered a blue, long range, premium interior, with Enhanced AutoPilot. We passed on the Performance option, wheel/tire upgrades, and we passed on the Full Self-Driving option. I'll explain my reasoning below. If I regret passing on the wheels or the self-driving, we can upgrade these later.

Below, I'll walk through the screenshots of the order process; but first, let's talk about the US Federal EV Tax Incentive. The incentive is reduced 3 to 6 months after a manufacturer sells 200,000 cars in the US. If my estimations are correct, then Tesla will deliver their 200,000th US car in early July, just a couple of weeks from now. This would result in the full $7500 incentive lasting through the end of the year. So, if you are in the US and want the full incentive, you need to take delivery (not just place the order) this year.

Race Condition (not the kind you find at the track)

In addition to waiting for dual motor, I had been considering waiting for the cream interior option too.  However, Tesla currently says the dual motor delivery estimate is "~3 to 5 months" and there is no sign that other interior colors (other than black and white) will be added soon. With a June 26th order date, 5 months later is November 26th. That is cutting it close to the end of the year. It does say "3 to 5", so it could be as short as 3 months, but the scariest part of that "~3 to 5 months" quote is the little squiggly character in the front. It is called tilde and, in this use, it means "about" or "approximately". This gives Tesla some wiggle room to push the delivery date around as warranted by production or force majeure.

This creates a race condition between the reduction of the incentive on January 1st, 2019 and the delivery of the car. In computer science, you generally do things in series, one after the other, in the order you want them done. Instead, if you execute tasks in parallel, then you include some sort of barrier to guarantee that all the needed tasks are complete before going on to other work that may depend on the results of these parallel tasks. When you have a bug in your code where things did not occur in the order that you expected, it could be because you have a race condition. In this case, for the car, I want the order of events to be 1) Delivery 2) New Year's Day 2019. However, there's nothing that I can do to enforce this order of events, so it's a race condition. If the events happen out of order, I'll receive half (or less) of the tax incentive.

Order Process

Here are the screenshots and my rationale. Your choices may be different, but consider this food for thought; and if you disagree with my selections, leave me a comment. If you're persuasive, I may change my order.


Select Your Car: three options
1) Long Range: Rear Wheel Drive
2) Long Range: Dual Motor All-Wheel Drive
3) Long Range: Dual Motor Performance

All-wheel drive will make it surefooted and for our needs, the dual motor car will have more than enough performance.

Select your color: Black, grey, silver, red, white, or blue.

Select your wheels. We stayed with the standard 18" aero wheels. These have better range than the 19" wheels and if you don't like the look of the aero cover, you can pop it off and the wheels underneath are not bad looking. For me, the aeros look better in person, than they do in photos, especially when the car is in motion.


Interior: There is only one option. The white seats are only available with the performance vehicle and the cream will not likely be available until next year. I'd rather have a car with black seats this year, than a car with cream seats next year.

Besides increasing my odds of getting the full tax credit, the other advantage I get by ordering now is the free Premium Communications package. The note on the right side of the screen above says that vehicles ordered before July 1st have this included.


Autopilot: We have enhanced AutoPilot V1 in our Model X and I love it. I use it nearly everytime I drive. Given this statement, you might think that I'd select Full Self-Driving. I do think the technology will be there within the next 5 years. But I am not as confident about the legislation needed to make it legal to use it. Given this uncertainty, I'll keep the $3,000 invested. Buying self-driving later will cost me $5000 instead of only $3000, but by the time I'm ready to buy it, perhaps my investments will have turned that $3000 into $6000.


There is the final price: $60,000 even with destination fee. I plan to pay cash. We've been saving for years for this and I don't like to pay interest on depreciating assets. I will, however, check around. If I can find an interest rate that is less than 1%, then I'll consider taking out a loan.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Tesla Model 3 Matte Black Center Console Wrap

Photo via inverses2 on reddit
The Tesla Model 3 is a modern technological marvel, but it has a flaw. What is the flaw, you ask? The glossy center consule is a fingerprint magnet. The good news is that you can resolve this with a simple self-install kit from Amazon.

You can get the kit in matte black shown above, or (if you prefer) there is a brushed metal, or carbon fiber options.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Tesla Roadster Rocket Thrusters Explained By Tesla Patent


During the annual Tesla shareholder meeting, CEO Elon Musk announced that Roadster 2020 would have a SpaceX option package that will include rocket thrusters. Later Musk tweeted a few more details:  the thrusters won’t actually combust; instead, they will expel high-pressure air to give the Tesla an extra boost of acceleration.

Industry experts and the tranche of the internet that follows Elon Musk have been speculating and arguing about these rocket thrusters since their announcement. Will they be functional, whimsical and decorative (just there to signal your extravagance), or some combination of all of the above?

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rockets use composite overwrapped pressure vessels (COPV). These tanks are made out of a thin metal liner wrapped in carbon fiber, and they’re fairly lightweight and a great way to store a lot of pressurized air in a very small space. This is what Tesla plans to use in the Roadster. Using COPVs in vehicles is not a new idea; some buses and trucks use them to store compressed natural gas, and fuel cell vehicles use COPVs to store hydrogen, but the gases in these tanks are used as fuel for the vehicles, not expelled as direct thrust.

Problems With Air As Thrust 

When someone talks about putting an air rocket thruster on a car, the easy assumption is that these "thrusters" would be used for thrust by ejecting air and propelling the car. The experts have brought up many problems that this could cause:
  • To accelerate a vehicle in the weight category of the new Tesla Roadster, the air would need to be expelled at super high speeds. Some have calculated that the air would need to exit at more than 1,500 MPH to accelerate the Roadster. Using this at a stoplight could propel debris into the windshield of another car or a nearby pedestrian. If implemented this way, this potential hazard could prevent the thrusters from being street legal. 
  • Expelling air at high speeds would be exceptionally loud.
  • Repressurizing the tank with the large volumes of air this would require would use a lot of energy from the battery pack. 
Sam Abuelsamid, a senior research analyst at Navigant, an advisory firm for the auto industry, told The Verge, “It’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard of.”

Perhaps Tesla engineers have discovered ways to avoid all of these issues or perhaps they have something else in mind. Tesla's pending patent number US15820788 might give us a hint to the real intentions that Tesla have for these "rocket thrusters".

Tesla Patent

The patent is titled "Passive air bleed for improved cooling systems." Have you ever used a can of air spray to clean your keyboard or blow dust out of your computer? If you have, you might've noticed that the can gets cold and might even frost over. This chill is due to a thermodynamics property known as adiabatic cooling. A gas, initially at high pressure, cools significantly when that pressure is released. Tesla's patent uses this property to make a better cooling system.
Figure 5 of Tesla's Patent - a radiator employing a passive air bleed device

Figure 7 of Tesla's Patent - a drive unit for an electric vehicle incorporating an external passive air bleed device

Hot Lap, Overheating At The Track

Tesla does not make slow cars. They are known for their impressive zero to 60 and quarter-mile times. The performance demands of a hot lap are, however, very different from those of a 0-60.

When attempting a hot lap in a Model S, Car and Driver found multiple problems with the car. At the Virginia International Raceway, the Model S went into reduced power mode in the middle of its first hot lap. In the Tesla racing community, it is common knowledge that the Model S has issues on extended runs at the race track. As Teslarati notes, the electric sedans have a tendency to overheat in one lap or less at most courses. One of the more well-known examples was when a Model S was unable to maintain full power through the mountainous "The Green Hell" Nordschleife section of the Nürburgring.

Unlike the Model S, the new Roadster will be a track car. It will be in the hypercar performance range. It will need better cooling of the high-power electronics and batteries.

Would Adiabatic Cooling Work?

Now that we know the problem the Roadster designers are trying to solve, let's look at this potential solution and see how it fits with Musk's rocket thrusters tweet.

The tweet says it will improve acceleration, top speed, braking, and cornering. Certainly, all of these things rely upon cooling. With acceleration and sustained top speed, the high voltage systems and batteries need to be cooled to prevent power reduction. With braking, the brake pads need to be cooled. In normal driving, an EV can use regenerative braking; this is not the case at the track. Hard braking when heading into a turn requires the friction brakes. Corner after corner can take its toll and really heat the brakes.

Cooling With a Side of Downforce 

If cooling, not thrust, really is the primary function, these thrusters would not, necessarily, be on the back of the car. But once you have them, they can supply some thrust, so how could it best be utilized? Since cornering and acceleration require traction, the most likely place to put them is over the tires. Here, a small amount of downforce could affect performance significantly. Allowing the tires to stick to the road allows the torque of the electric motors to be used to its fullest.

How this could help allow a Tesla to fly, I'm not sure, maybe a couple of the thrusters will point down. Maybe Musk meant figuratively flying, as in going fast. Maybe he was actually just joking. Musk did say there would be ten of the thrusters. Perhaps two over each wheel and two pointing at the ground. If there are some pointing at the ground, I just hope the button to activate the fly feature on the touchscreen looks like this:
500 points to the first commenter to identify this.

Recent Tesla Stories:

Tesla Competition: Culture Eats Strategy!


http://ts.la/patrick7819

Monday, June 11, 2018

The Rules Of EV Charging

Plug-in vehicles of all types are becoming more popular. The EV community is no longer just you and a few of your friends that meet up every so often to talk about the latest in battery management systems. As an EV community, this is what we want, a growing community of EV drivers.

As EVs become more mainstream, people are not defining themselves by the car they drive, they are just trying to get from point A to point B. Today, you are more likely than ever to run into someone at a charging station that you've never met.

These new drivers might have different ideas than your local community about charging etiquette. To help clarify things, here are some clear simple rules.

The rules are:
  1. First come first served, period.
  2. Move as soon as you have enough*.
  3. Always have a plan B for charging.
  4. You are only "entitled" to use a charging station if you own it. If one you need is in use, you can ask for a favor and appeal to their sense of charity, or try to negotiate/bribe your way to a solution, but don't be an entitled jerk about it.
Let's break each of these down to understand them.

Rule 1: First Come First Serve

There are some in the EV community (and even one city) that believe that certain types of plug-in cars have more rights to the charging infrastructure than others. There are three general classes of plug-in vehicles: Plug-in Hybrids, Short Range EVs, & Long Range EVs. For those that do believe there is a canonical ordering of access rights, they tend to put whichever type of vehicle they drive at the top of this list.

I have a different opinion. I refer to it as the 14th Amendment of Charging. The 14th Amendment of the US Constitution guarantees equal protection under the law. The "14th Amendment of Charging" provides equal access for all plug-in vehicles. If the car has a plug and they have a membership to the charging network, then they have an equal right to use it. Having a gas backup option does not diminish the right of access compared to a BEV.

Rule 2: Move As Soon As You Have Enough

When you buy gas, you might "Fill'er Up", but with EV charging, filling up to 100% is generally a waste of your time. If you're on public infrastructure, when your battery is charged enough that you can get to your next destination with a comfortable cushion, then it's time to unplug and free up the spot for some else that may need it.
Charging up with enough is what I call "Lagom charging". Not to be confused with legumes; Lagom is a Swedish word that means "just the right amount". The charge rate of an EV slows as the battery pack approach full. If you don't need the range, there is no need to tolerate the slower rate. Instead, you can avoid wasting time by continuing your trip. Or if you are staying in the area, you can avoid some battery degradation by unplugging before your pack is at 100%. If you have what you need, then the rest of the charging can be done at home, overnight, while you sleep.

Rule 3: Charging Plan B

Charging stations are occasionally blocked, occupied, or down for maintenance. You should have a backup plan. Apps like PlugShare are one good source to find charging locations. Some areas are flush with charging stations and you can find another location easily. In other areas, it is more difficult.

For those more difficult areas, if you have a portable level 2 EVSE, you can grab a few Watt-hours from a friends dryer outlet or even at an RV campground. In a pinch, a standard household level 1 outlet can fill in some small gaps when used overnight.

Rule 4: Don't Be "Entitled"

If you own the charging station, then you get to decide who can use it. Otherwise, it's a public station. Coming up to a person at a public charging and telling them to move because you need/deserve/want it more, is a jerk move.

Instead, try being friendly. You already have something in common and you might actually make a friend.

Bonus Rule 5: Be Friendly 

Since you've read this far, I give you a bonus item suggested by reader Brian H.

I’d add a #5, be friendly and encouraging to fellow EV drivers, regardless of type of vehicle they drive. We all in this together to make life better. ☺